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When the City of Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department, together with the Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc., and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin’s office asked local residents to ManUp! on June 25, more than 60 men showed up.

Men from around Evanston gathered at Robert Crown Park for the first inaugural Men’s Health Initiative. Despite the high temperatures, participants came to receive free health screenings and navigate a taxing obstacle course. The goal of the program was to help men better understand how to stay healthy by offering health screenings to assess their current health and tapping into their competitive nature with a physical challenge. Health screenings for hepatitis C, prostate cancer (finger stick, blood draw) and diabetes and cholesterol as well as spinal assessments, balance and gait analyses and more were offered.

The Men’s Health Initiative was a way “of recognizing and celebrating the resourcefulness, determination, wisdom, and courage of men in their efforts to build healthy environments, often in the face of significant adversity, disadvantage, and neglect,” said Evonda Thomas-Smith, Director of Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department. “It provided an opportunity both to celebrate the good things that men and boys bring to our society as well as to shed light on the health and well-being issues they often face.”

 The idea of environments that support health is not new.

 The Evanston Health and Human Services Department has advocated an environment approach to health that examines the health effects of factors like early childhood, housing, education, relationships, and employment. This approach puts the emphasis on creating the kinds of environments that enable people to achieve health and well-being.

“We were happy to partner with the City to sponsor ManUp!” said Chessmen President Adrian Brewington. “Events like these are at the center of the Chessmen Club’s health care mission of educating the community on how to live healthier lives.  This was the fifth community health event we have conducted, and we have many more planned for the future.”